Bruins notice goalie interference calls on the rise

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Bruins notice goalie interference calls on the rise

While the NHL Director of Officiating Terry Gregson contends theres been no change to the way officials are enforcing goaltender interference infractions this season, the Bruins have noticed a high level of calls in their first two weeks worth of games.

There were a pair of important and controversial goalie interference calls that took place in Saturdays 1-0 Bruins win over the Leafs, but most people were talking about the goaltender interference call on Ottawa from Sunday nights game between the Senators and Canadiens.

The call in the MontrealOttawa game came as video replays showed that Carey Price was outside his crease, and wiped out a potential game-tying goal for Andre Benoit in the third period.

Likewise a Cody Franson game-tying score for the Maple Leafs was wiped out in the first period when Tuukka Rask was bumped outside of the crease by Nazem Kadri, and that caused a healthy amount of uproar in Canada.

There have been four goaltender interference calls for two-minute minor penalties in Bostons first eight games, and at least three goals have been wiped out for incidental contact including two scores Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre.

Perhaps Tuukka Rask is the wrong person to ask about it on the Bruins when looking for an impartial observer, but the Bruins goaltender doesnt seem to mind being protected very much.

I havent seen that many. I saw a couple in our games, but I dont know if theyre keeping a closer eye on them or not, said Rask, who is 5-1-1 with a 2.10 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. Calls have been made during play. Sometimes theyre questionable and sometimes theyre not. I know I got called out for saying I was flopping around.

I know its a difficult challenge for referees because some goalies like to challenge the shot and come out of the crease a little bit. Then they get bumped and its tough to not make that call. Its a fine line. Im sure the refs have been told to keep an eye on those because its always a close call.

The Bruins havent been hosed, to use some Canadian parlance, by the goaltending interference calls, but one of the plays from Saturday nights win in Toronto was the same sequence that led to Brad Marchands injury. Toronto goalie James Reimer kicked out his leg pad as Marchand crashed the net, and Marchand tripped over the pad into the end boards.

Tyler Seguin eventually scored what appeared to be an insurance goal after a puck deflected off his body into the net during an ensuing scramble seconds later, but it was waved off because of the incidental contact earlier in the play with Marchand. Claude Julien said theres been a bigger pattern of more penalties being called this season across the NHL.

Some of increased penalty calls might have to do with players not in optimal game condition cheating more in the first few weeks of the season, and referees that are paying closer attention to a number of different things.

But Julien has definitely observed the orange safety cones practically installed just outside the goalie crease area.

We all know that there are a lot of penalties being called given the adjustments to the rules and youre seeing it all over. You look at the penalty killing column in league stats and almost every team is in the same area with X amount of penalties. So its consistent throughout the league, said Julien. Just look at our game in Toronto. To be bluntly honest it was questionable on Tuukka and it was extremely questionable on Brad Marchand. Reimer sticks his pad out and trips Marchand outside of the crease and then we scored.

Theyre very sensitive to that. Its not just us. Its all around the league. Maybe theyre sending a message to everyone to stay away from the goaltenders and then theyll soften up a bit once we start being a little better about it.

If teams continue to get whistled for goaltender interference on plays when the keeper is clearly outside the crease, then expect that march to the penalty box to continue for the rest of the shortened NHL campaign.

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.